Tonight's Antares Launch Marked the End of an Era
On August 1, 2023,
the last Northrup Grumman Antares rocket lifted off
at 8:31 PM Eastern (0031 UTC on August 2). This is the last launch of
the Antares, carrying their Cygnus cargo vessel to the ISS. The Cygnus
will live on, under contract to NASA, but a new launch vehicle is being developed
by Firefly, to be called the Antares 330. Originally expected to fly
toward the end of '24, it now looks to be No Earlier Than (NET) summer of
'25. Until that vehicle flies and is certified,
Northrup Grumman has contracted with SpaceX
for three launches starting later this year (at this point
stated as NET November).
Continuing their tradition of naming Cygnus vehicles for influential individuals in spaceflight, the NG-19 Cygnus was christened the SS Laurel Clark, for the fallen space shuttle Columbia astronaut. Once on orbit, the SS Laurel Clark will spend about 2.5 days catching up to the ISS.
Video Here - should start at about T-15 seconds. There's a tribute to Laurel Clark about 15 minutes before that. The whole video is around 51 minutes.
Europe's Euclid Space Telescope Downloads First Test Images
Much as the James Webb Space Telescope started downloading test images before starting its "real science" images, the European Space Agency's Euclid Telescope, launched a month ago on July 1, has reached its orbit at the L2 (Lagrange) point and started taking and downloading its first images this week.
On Monday (July 31), the European Space Agency's Euclid telescope sent its first images back to Earth. And while these seminal portraits are certainly mesmerizing, they also confirm that the space observatory's instruments are working in tip-top shape.
Two images taken by Euclid's instruments. The left was taken by VIS and the right by NISP. (Image credit: ESA/Euclid/Euclid Consortium/NASA)
VIS is the visible light sensor, while NISP is the Near-Infrared Spectrometer and Photometer which (as the name says) is sensitive to light wavelengths invisible to the unaided (human) eye. More images and much more information at Space.com.
It should go without saying that these are test images and not yet usable for the telescope's intended scientific uses, but final words to the team:
"The outstanding first images obtained using Euclid's visible and near-infrared instruments open a new era to observational cosmology and statistical astronomy," Yannick Mellier, astronomer at the Institut d'Astrophysique de Paris and Euclid Consortium lead, said in a statement. "They mark the beginning of the quest for the very nature of dark energy."